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Photo by Madison Simmons.

From his spot in the picket line, John Thomas paused to take in his employer’s large space in his family’s history — and his psyche.

“When I was a small kid,” he said, “my dad worked here, starting in 1976. I remember being a kid and wanting to work here. Now, I don’t even want my kids to come here.”

A member of Teamsters Local 997, Thomas is one of hundreds of employees of Molson Coors fighting to keep their health insurance plan, equalize the pension program, and earn higher wages. The Teamsters’ strike against the brewing giant in South Fort Worth started on February 17, and the strikers say it won’t end until an agreement is reached.

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In 2023, Molson Coors achieved six years’ worth of profit growth, and many employees are wondering when any of those monies will trickle down.

Thomas, a shipping clerk and lead administrator on the company’s emergency response team, has been a part of negotiations between the Teamsters and the corporation. The most recent round took place in two separate conference rooms at a nearby hotel. Negotiations stretched over two days. Molson Coors offered the Teamsters a nickel above the initial 99-cent hourly raise over the course of three years.

Thomas said, “They brought nothing to the table. We made them an offer and had to wait over 24 hours. It was disrespectful.”

In an email, Adam Collins, chief communications officer for Molson Coors, said, “We remain committed to reaching a fair agreement and have offered highly competitive wages and benefits off an already strong base.”

Several strikers said they did not feel the wages in their specialties reflected area market standards. Many also pointed to the recent contract that Anheuser-Busch agreed to after negotiations with its 5,000 Teamsters at plants across the country.

“We should get what they did,” said local Teamster Tommy Herr, adding that Molson Coors has “never shown us that level of respect.”

The AB contract includes wage increases of $8 an hour over five years, equal health-care coverage for all employees, and more vacation weeks.

Herr works as an electrician in the brewhouse and walked the picket line last Friday night. The Teamsters take six-hour shifts to ensure people are covering the entrances and exits around the clock. They spend most of that time walking in front of each station, taking breaks to shelter and socialize under tents set with coolers and snacks.

On Sunday morning, Glenn Ashworth walked the loop in front of the northernmost entrance in a flame-orange Molson Coors long-sleeved shirt, leaning on a matching cane with every step. Ashworth does not use a cane at work or at home, he said, but the hours walking outside the brewery aggravate a hip replacement and recent muscle tear. The 64-year-old mechanic will retire next year. A self-described “workaholic,” Ashworth has considered the six-hour shifts on the picket line an introduction to retirement, but he feels eager to get back to his regular job: fixing machines.

“We’re going back in,” he said. “It’s going to be hell when we go back in. I’m sure half of [the pumps] are leaking by now.”

About a third of a mile south down the service road, another worker nearing retirement picketed, carrying a sign reading, “Don’t Drink Molson Coors.” Vincent Hernandez could have already settled into retirement, but the 65-year-old plans to wait until next year, as his 64-year-old wife uses his health insurance plan.

Working “16 hours a day nearly seven days a week” for 33 years allowed him to “get ahead,” he said. Newer employees are not as well compensated and will have to work more years than he has to earn the same benefits, he said. “I want them to have what I had.”

Erica Johnson took a break from cooking pork chops and mac ’n’ cheese for her fellow strikers on Sunday morning to say, “We shouldn’t still be out here.” It was Day 51. Johnson works in packaging and has been with the company for 17 years.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters formed in 1903. Of the 420 members of the Teamsters Local 997 of the Fort Worth Molson Coors plant, the vast majority chose to strike rather than accept a new contract that initially featured a 99-cent hourly raise over three years.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
In the past, 62-year-old electrician Jim Cox has been part of the hiring process and said that, by his estimation, Molson Coors does not have competitive enough pay to afford electricians with experience. He’s been with the company for 14 years.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
“It’s all out of whack,” said Roberto Hernandez, right, of benefits and pay at Molson Coors. “We are not appreciated for our skilled trade.” Hernandez has worked as a utilities technician for 11 years at the company. Craig Ringer agrees. “We can’t get people because [Molson Coors does not] pay enough, so we’re always short-staffed.” Ringer has worked as a Molson Coors electrician for 17 years.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The Teamsters work in six-hour shifts to ensure picketers are at the facility around the clock.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
“Thanks to Miller,” the company before Molson Coors took over, “my family has gotten to see a nice life,” said 65-year-old Vincent Hernandez, who over the past 33 years has taken his family on vacations and put his kids through college on his salary. He plans to retire next year, after his wife turns 65. “I’m striking for the rights of the future. We have not really gained. We have lost. I’m all for [the strike], even though I’m about to be out.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Many Teamsters take issue with a tier system that Molson Coors introduced. Discrepancies in pay and vacation time between new hires and employees with seniority causes division among the staff, the strikers say.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Despite being one year away from retirement, 64-year-old Glenn Ashworth decided to strike with his co[-]workers. “I’m a second-generation Teamster, and you don’t break the picket line.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The Teamsters track the trucks coming to and from the facility and report a decrease in activity compared to pre-strike operating conditions.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

John and Nadia Thomas have a combined 38 years working at Molson Coors. John has been part of the team negotiating a new contract with the company. “When people laugh and say we make enough money, well, they don’t see what we do for that money,” including 16-hour shifts with allegedly no air[-]conditioning during the summer and no heat in the winter.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
(From left to right) Jacob Grafa, Nick Longworth, and Roger Sheriff have been with Molson Coors for about five years and described tough working conditions, from long hours to a lack of air[-]conditioning during the summer. All three are earning for their young families.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

“What got to me is how much money they brag about making over the past year, and they don’t want to give us anything,” said Jacob Grafa, a shipping office clerk.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Nick Longworth has worked at the company as a forklift operator for one year. He began as a temp worker and describes working 30-plus days without a day off. “The hell they make us go through just to get hired on. … I thought I was coming here to find the career I could retire on.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Roger Sheriff has spent five years driving a forklift at Molson Coors. Both his wife and his young son have had open-heart surgery. He said the new contract featured fewer health insurance benefits. “I worked real hard to get this job for this [health] insurance, and now they’re attempting to take it from us.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Most of the 420 Teamsters members have spent nearly two months picketing outside of the facility. The strike began February 17, after the company offered a 99-cent hourly raise over the course of three years. Since then and after weeks of negotiation, the company has offered an additional 5-cent hourly raise.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
The Teamsters have called for a boycott of all Molson Coors products to show solidarity with the striking employees.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
“My opinion is we’re looking at company profit over company labor,” said Darren Maxey, who has worked in packaging at the company for a decade. “I’m anxious to get back inside.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
“We have a good community and are a good team,” said Monica Hernandez of her job as a packaging operator on the bottle line at Molson Coors. She has worked for the company for 13 years.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Last Friday night, Teamsters picketed in front of one of the entrances to the facility. They legally have 90 seconds to block the road before allowing vehicles to enter.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Photo by Madison Simmons.
Along with Mauqea King (right), Tommy Herr, who has been with Molson Coors for 15 years, recalled hearing about the brewer’s good reputation while working as an electrician at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in the 1980s. “But every contract, [Molson Coors bosses] just reduce, reduce,” he said. King nodded. “Oh, man.” The most recent offer was “a slap in the face. It was unbelievable. I thought we meant more to them.”
Photo by Madison Simmons.
“I’m just an average Joe trying to provide for my family,” said Mike Hernandez, who raises his four kids and 2-year-old granddaughter off his Molson Coors salary. He said he has enjoyed his seven years working the supply chain in the warehouse, but he claims the company continues to erode pay and benefits. As line captain, Hernandez spent last Friday night overseeing the Teamsters picketing at the entrances and exits of the Molson Coors facility in South Fort Worth.
Photo by Madison Simmons.

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